The bad news is finally in: the Goa Medical College has been denied permission to convert postgraduate diploma seats to degree seats. On Thursday the Medical Council of India released the list of medical colleges that have been allowed to upgrade PG diploma courses to degree courses. Those colleges got it because they positively and quickly responded to the upgradation offer of the Union ministry for health and family welfare. As a series of reports in this newspaper had pointed out, the GMC authorites failed to give a quick, positive response to the ministry’s offer. They woke up to send their response to the ministry only on February 21, nearly a month after the deadline was over! The failure of the GMC authorities has made at least 26 medical students miss admission to PG degree courses.
The GMC authorities have done great injustice to the students of the college who were looking forward to doing postgraduate studies. It now remains to be seen whether the MCI would deliver another blow to the state by abolishing the PG diploma courses, as the Union ministry for health and family welfare wants only degree courses to continue in medical colleges. If that happens, GMC would be a bigger loser as it would have to wind up the diploma courses too. That would be a double whammy to students at the Goa Medical College. Though a number of specialist doctors pass out from GMC their number is not enough to fill various vacancies. Additional doctors with PG degree are required to make up for the shortfall. There are a number of posts lying vacant at GMC for want of qualified doctor; the newer courses would have helped in meeting the demand. The fear expressed by some GMC authorities, that those passing out leave the state for greener pastures appears to be too far-fetched as the state could have invoked the provisions of bond signed by the students, even from the all-India quota, to serve the state for specific number of years. It is clear that the GMC authorities lacked the perspective of creating qualified and specialized manpower for filling up their vacancies.
With the MCI refusing to accept the belated response from GMC, the Goa government would now have to move appropriate authorities and if need be, the Supreme Court of India to ensure that Goan students do not miss out on admission to PG degree courses. The state can plead with the authorities concerned that scores of students should not be penalized owing to the negligence of the GMC top administrators, who failed to submit a positive response on flimsy grounds. Following the MCI’s notice the state government has decided to approach Union Health Minister J P Nadda and other authorities to get the approval for the upgradation of the courses in the larger interest of the student community. As the approval to upgrade the courses has been granted across the board with many private colleges too figuring in the list, it is a pity that GMC, one of the oldest medical colleges in Asia, could not make it. The permission to convert the postgraduate diploma seats to postgraduate degree seats would be subjected to respective medical colleges getting affiliation of the additional PG degree seats from the concerned university, which appears to be a mere formality.
It was only after the media reports about the fear of GMC losing out on upgradation of seats the GMC authorities woke up to hold meetings of the heads of departments and wrote back to the Union health ministry. Were they to respond with the same speed earlier, the state would not have lost the opportunity for upgradation, and at least 13 students, with the other seats going to students from other medical colleges in the country as per the norms, would have got admission to PG degree courses in specialties. The issue was kept on the backburner just because the GMC dean felt that the college did not have adequate number of guides which according to many in GMC was not a correct view as there already are medical guides who are training students pursuing PG diploma courses. Besides, the shortcomings could have been made good over the period of three years that is given to the institution before the MCI inspections take place for granting recognition to courses. Let us hope the state government makes all efforts to gain what it lost owing to GMC authorities’ negligence. And let the setback be a warning to the GMC authorities to not lose such good opportunities in the future.